Friday, January 20, 2006

You Never Forget, and Probably Shouldn't

My blogiverse sistah, Angry Black Bitch, just got her first "nigger" comment. I didn't attach the link to make this cornhole famous, but to say a big fuck you and have a nice day to those who say Black people are too sensitive about race. The discussion about "nigger" versus "nigga" doesn't apply here, so I'll save my thought on that for another time. The point is that in 2006, it is still acceptable for someone, anyone, to use the word nigger as an insult. Ah, how it does take me back.

The year was 1975. I was in 3rd grade at P.S. 133, a mostly-White school in Bellerose, Queens. It was late in the school year, around May, and it was lunchtime. I brought my lunch to school in an "Apple's Way" lunchbox (okay, I admit I was into Leif Garrett at the time), so the cold lunch kids ate in the auditorium. I don't remember what the topic of discussion was, but I do remember disagreeing with some stupid ass White boy, who responded to my dissent by calling me a Black cookie. No, it wasn't nigger, but it was bad enough that when I was able to speak about it, and not until many years later, my mother was apalled. Apalled that it happened, and that I didn't tell her the same day.

Fast forward to the last day of school following 7th grade. J.H.S. 172 in Floral Park, Bellerose's neighbor, wasn't exactly friendly ground for Black kids, especially the ones in the gifted class, like me. It wasn't as if we were taking a beat down every day, but the resentment from the parents of these kids, and some of the older kids, was pretty obvious. The bell rang, and those of us that were bussed in, loaded up onto our busses, and pulled off from in front of the school. Within minutes, our busses were pelted with rocks, bricks, and bottles while nigger, nigger, nigger was spit at us. Every window was shattered. I went home with the blood from some kid's head on my favorite yellow skirt. Eventually, we made it out. Three kids from the neighborhood, including the older brother of a kid I spent the last five years in elementary school with, were arrested, and given community service. The parents of these hoodlums tried to dismiss the incident as harmless, a prank gone wrong, nothing to take too seriously.

I've been called nigger a few times since then. A homeless guy called me a nigger bitch because I wouldn't give him any money. About a year ago, on my way home from the gym in the ultra-liberal Brooklyn nabe of Park Slope, I walked past another homeless guy, pushing his belongings in a cart. He asked if I planned to rob him, and I laughed no. He responded "That's what you niggers do, but you won't rob me." I responded "You're lucky I've just worked out my aggressions and that I'm a pacifist or I'd whip your pitiful ass."

You just never forget the best moments of your life, or the worst. Some things that happened decades ago, like my nearly-forty year old self remembering something that happened when I was 8, can be recalled with the clarity of five minutes ago. Some things you want to forget, and can't; you can't unlearn what you've already learned.

Some things we shouldn't forget. ABB said she won't take down that nasty comment because it's a reminder that mess like that still exists.



Anonymous Chicago Joe said...

Ugh. Sorry you've been through all that, it's disgusting. I've heard a lot of anti-black comments from homeless in Chicago, and it never ceases to surprise me...most of the ones I've seen are clearly schizophrenic, and the fact that racist feelings manifest themselves in such is something that proves the culture hasn't come as far as we'd like.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Shark-fu said...

No, you never forget...


3:13 PM  
Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

GF, you should check out my blog post the Thursday before MLK Day, wherein I detailed how my office manager said we were not getting off early for the long weekend because (these words, not mine), afterall, it's not as if it's a REAL holiday.

It's amazing isn't it??

I was, and still am, insulted and upset by that insensitive comment.

10:41 PM  

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